By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
PEARL – Mike Bain was so confident his Pontotoc Lady Warriors were going to win the MHSAA Class 4A track and field meet Saturday, he had state championship t-shirts printed up ahead of time.
“I’ve never done that before, never had that luxury,” the coach said, then smiled. “I had done the math; I knew we should win.”
Pontotoc won its second consecutive state title by 66 points – 118 to 52 – against second-place Lafayette.
The Lady Warriors had athletes in 14 of the 17 events held at Pearl High School’s track facility. In six of the events, Bain had at least two entries.
Port Gibson won the boys 4A title while J.Z. George swept the boys and girls 2A championships. In 6A, Murrah’s girls and Meridian’s boys captured the titles.
Pontotoc’s state championship was the 40th won by Bain in track (10) and cross country (30).
Pontotoc freshman pole vaulter Katy McAuley wanted to win, but not if it meant beating her teammate, senior Katie Gentry.
“She wanted to know if I wanted to win because it was my senior year,” said Gentry, a Mississippi State signee. “I told her, ‘If you can beat me, beat me.’’’
McAuley beat her, soaring to a Class 4A meet record vault of 9 feet, 6 inches to win the state championship. Gentry, who is battling stress fracture in her leg, was second at 9-0.
“That was a good vault,” Gentry said. “She was scared of trying to go 9-6. I think she thought the bar would hurt her.”
The bar never got an opportunity to do any damage. McAuley cleared it easily.
“I’d gone 9-6 in practice, but my best in a meet was 9-0,” she said. “It was windy today and I wasn’t sure how I would do, but I came down here to win.”
McAuley later finished second overall in the 800 meters.
Senior sprinter Rhandi Ball won the 100 meters in 12.3 seconds and finished second in the 100-meter hurdles.
Ball, a Delta State basketball signee, was seeded fourth coming into the 100 meters. It was her third consecutive state championship in the event and the third time she wasn’t the favorite.
“I’m never seeded to win, but I win,” Ball said, then smiled. “I was zoned out today and just ran.”
Ebony Brinker, a senior an MSU signee, won her third straight state title in the triple jump and set a 4A class record with a jump of 38 feet, 7 inches. She broke her own mark of 37-6.50.
Brinker defeated her future Bulldogs’ teammate, Byhalia’s Erica Bougard, who beat her in the long jump.
“(Bougard) was right behind me in the triple jump,” Brinker said. “She’s a crazy jumper.”
Brinker was second in the long jump with an 18-03.50 leap while her sister, Amber, was third with a 17-01.50.
In the girls’ discus, Kymlaisha Pannell was second for Pontotoc.
On the boys side, Shaquille Gillard won the 110-meter hurdles in 15:24. “I was happy with my time,” he said. “I can do better, but it was enough to win.”
Blake Hill finished second in the 800 meters and third in the pole vault for Pontotoc. Adrian Potter was second in the high jump for the Warriors.
Defending state champion Zach Hand of New Albany won the shot put with a distance of 48 feet, 8.5 inches. His previous best this year was a 49-3 at the North state meet.
“I was pretty confident,” he said. “I knew I had some people close to me, but I was ready for the competition.”
He also finished third in discus.
Tupelo’s boys relay teams had a solid showing. In the 4×200 relay, Arelanders Elliott, Matt McIntosh, Marquis Allen and JaCory Gilbert placed second. In the 4×100 relay, Allen, McIntosh, Terrell Pinson and Rodney McIntosh finished third.
Garrett Rogers finished second in the 800 meter with a 2:03 clocking for the Wave.
Lady Dores roll
Lafayette’s 4×400 relay unit of Meagan Norphlet, Alisha Hickinbottom, Janae Westbrook and Mariah Buford won the state title in 4:14.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593